Tom Wenger II (1973–2023): Happy Warrior For The Gospel

Yesterday, our dear brother, the Rev. Mr. Thomas L. Wenger II was taken suddenly to be with the Lord. He leaves behind his congregation, Trinity PCA, Crofton, MD, his wife Holly, three children, by his parents, the Rev. Mr. Thomas L. Wenger, Sr., Senior Pastor, Pasadena Evangelical Presbyterian Church, his mother Mrs Joanne Wenger and his siblings, John, Jamie, Josh, Kadi, Jodi, and Tim.

Tom taught at Rockbridge Academy as a sixth grade teacher from 1997 until he entered seminary at Westminster Seminary California. He graduated from Lancaster Bible College with a BA and from seminary with an MA in historical theology in 2003. He submitted and defended his MA thesis, “An Elenctic Norm: Defining Calvin’s Tertius Usus Legis,” in 2003. After graduation, he served on the pastoral staff at Fourth Presbyterian Church (EPC), in Bethesda, MD and then as pastor of discipleship at Evangelical Presbyterian Church of Annapolis (PCA). He then planted Trinity PCA, in Crofton, MD.

He is author of the essay “The New Perspective On Calvin: Responding To Recent Calvin Interpretations” in the Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 50 (2007): 311–28. This essay was based, in part, on his MA thesis. It provoked a significant discussion and continues to be cited by scholars as a contribution to Calvin studies.

Tom was a contributor to the Heidelblog. In 2014, he published, “What About Love? A Crucial Piece Missing From The Sanctification Debate,” and last year he published, “Old And Bald: Responding To Salvation By Allegiance Alone By Matthew Bates.” He also served as Vice-Chairman of the Heidelberg Reformation Association.

I had the privilege of teaching Tom for two years and the blessing of his friendship for more than twenty years. He was a happy warrior for the gospel. He feared the Lord more than men. He was kind, gracious, patient, and often hilariously funny, but when it came time to stand up for the gospel, Tom Wenger, Jr., was the man you wanted.

He will be dearly missed. His family and congregation are grieving and trusting in the mercies of the Lord. A GoFundMe has been established to offset the unexpected funeral expenses and to help with the educational needs of the children.

The memorial is scheduled for Saturday, September 15, 2023 for Annapolis Evangelical Presbyterian Church, 710 Ridgley Ave., Annapolis, MD 21401 at 12:00 PM. The memorial will be livestreamed.

Below is an interview that Tom gave to his alma mater, Westminster Seminary California, in 2010.

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This month we introduce Tom Wenger, pastor of discipleship at the Evangelical Presbyterian Church of Annapolis (PCA) in Annapolis, MD. He graduated from WSC with an MA Historical Theology degree in 2003. Prior to working in Annapolis he served at Fourth Presbyterian Church in Bethesda, MD. Tom and his wife Holly are both natives of Annapolis and live there with their two (and soon to be 3) children.

Why did you choose to attend WSC?
I had been influenced a great deal by Dr. Horton’s books and the White Horse Inn while in college, and so that is how I first began considering WSC. But being from Annapolis, MD, the thought of moving to the stuccoed and tiled desert most certainly did not appeal to me. However my cousin, who lived in Rancho Bernardo at the time, convinced me to come out and arranged for me to have dinner with him and the Hortons. It was then that Mike explained to me the uniqueness of the MA Historical Theology degree, the rarity of finding such a combination of academic and confessional commitment among the faculty, and finally, the importance of studying with Meredith Kline. It took about 25 minutes to convince me that a brief sojourn in Babylon would actually be good for me, and so I left the Promised Land [of Annapolis] a few months later to enroll in Summer Greek.

What were the most significant things that you learned/gained during your time at WSC?
I think that seeing the interplay and balance of exegetical, biblical, historical, and systematic theology laid out before me was of immense importance. None competed for primacy, but rather each was shown to be a necessary building block and compliment to the others. Additionally, this was not simply put on paper; we were guided in the process by men who modeled such practices admirably. What this led to was that we saw that being confessional did not eliminate any of those processes but in fact required them.

What are your present endeavors and/or future plans?
I am currently the pastor of discipleship at the Evangelical Presbyterian Church of Annapolis (PCA) which essentially means that I am in charge of what is taught here. It gives me wonderful opportunities to teach, write curriculum for our adult Sunday schools, and to preach. I am very happy in this role and could see myself doing it for quite some time.

How did your education at WSC equip/prepare you for your present roles and responsibilities?
Though the WSC catalogue says of the MAHT degree that “It is not the purpose of this program to prepare candidates for ordination to the ministry of the Word,” they did a better job than they give themselves credit. I did not initially enroll with the desire to pursue pastoral ministry, but that began to change as I was in Dr. Hart’s Reformed Spirituality class. From that point on, I began considering that possibility and delved into my HT coursework with more of a mentality of how I would serve the church with what I was learning. WSC does such a good job of clarifying and defending the gospel that in every class, be it a language class, HT seminar, or a systematics lecture, we were constantly reminded of why each of these disciplines were crucial to the work of the church’s proclamation of the gospel. This is something that I have found to be invaluable.

What is one of your favorite memories of your time at WSC?
I would have to say that the hours spent hammering out the details of covenant theology at the hygienically dubious Upper Crust pizza shop, almost always with willing faculty “victims” present, is an experience I will always cherish.

What advice would you give to prospective students considering graduate theological education?
Pick your institution based on the faculty first, and then consider whether or not the school is known for seeking to ground you on something solid and tested by time. Do not pick a school or a faculty that seek notoriety by being edgy or seek primarily to be creative. The best balance is if a school is academically excellent and confessionally faithful (i.e., WSC).


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6 comments

  1. Scott, thank you for sharing your memories and memorializing this life of service to the gospel. Also great to have the repost of the interview.

    We are grieving the loss of a local pastor here in metro DC.

    Brian Lee

  2. Thank you for this tribute, Dr. C. There was a small group of us who went to WSC from Fourth Pres–largely due to his influence. And there was a much greater group from Fourth Pres who learned the power of Christ-centered preaching and loving the Lord with your mind from him. He was a quintessential reflection of the powerful work the Lord is doing in and through WSC for the sake of His beloved bride, the church.

  3. So very sorry to hear this news. Tom and I were MAHT students at the same time; I have many good memories of him. Happy warrior is a good description.

    • So sad to see this news. Tom was truly a mensch in the fullest sense of that word. I have many good memories of him of that year we overlapped in the MAHT program 20 years ago. I can still hear his deep laugh. One of the happy Machen warrior children indeed.

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